Monday, May 13, 2013

A Story About Charlie - Employee Training That Goes Beyond Learning!

I wanted to share a story about Charlie, a 62 year old technician from a large Fortune 20 telecom company.  At the time, Charlie told me he couldn't retire soon because he recently took custody of his grandson.  So Charlie signed up for a Community College certification course that was customized (with the company) to help install, troubleshoot and connect home computers onto the company's new fiber-optic network.  This was a 16 week class, meeting 2 days week for 3 hours per session.  It was a theory and hands-on based class.

I met Charlie when he registered for the program and I constantly checked in the class to see how the class was going and how Charlie was doing.  Well, Charlie loved the course and his instructor told me Charlie was the best performer in the class, always arrived early and most of the time took all of his computer equipment home with him.  Also, his positive enthusiasm towards learning actually was infectious throughout the whole class.  In fact, the instructor wished he had his on-going energy and positive outlook!

At the end of the training, the college would celebrate with a small graduate ceremony.  We would invite both the college's senior staff and the client's staff to congratulate the technicians for the successful completion of the program.  Each person would come to the podium to receive their certificate of achievement.

When Charlie's name was mentioned, Charlie walked up to the podium and asked if he could speak a few words to the audience.  Charlie spoke about his grandson being in and out of juvenile detention centers, nobody caring for him, always in trouble and never was interested in anything.  When Charlie was bringing his books and equipment home, he noticed his son started to take an interest in what he was doing.  He started learning about computer hardware, operating systems and networking with Charlie.  He stopped going out and started to work with Charlie in repairing and maintaining computers...

In registering for this course, Charlie, never in his wildest dreams thought his grandson would have any  interest in computers and he was so proud of how a course like this helped to create a wonderful bond at this stage of his life!  This meant more to him than the actual training and certificate he received.

Today, Charlie is semi-retired and works for his grandson who owns a computer repair and maintenance store in Tampa, FL...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are you working with Vendors or Strategic Partners? Do you know the difference?

“We’re going to see employment-based learning as a new model going forward,” said Harper President Kenneth Ender. “It’s a powerful tool for getting people on the path to good, middle-skills jobs, but it’s going to require a closer partnership between community colleges and local companies.”

When we hear this message, how do we make this work?  What’s important in looking for vendors or partners?  Which holds the most promise and value to your college?  How do you choose a strategic partner in education?

First let’s look at the standard definition that separates a vendor from a partner….  A vendor is someone who basically provides goods and services at any point of the supply-chain.  Vendors are not involved in strategy but can contribute to your tactical plan.  A partnership is when each business or organization possesses one or more business assets that will help one another, but that each respective other does not wish to develop internally.  A partnership can get very involved in helping you set your strategy and tactical plans. 

You need both but you need to distinguish between the two…  Which holds the most promise and value to your college?  Usually, vendors supply you products and services throughout your supply chain then move on to their next client.  Strategic partners are vested in your particular success and well being.  They are part your engine that makes your car run.

In education, are you partnering with companies that have your best interests in mind and are motivated in succeeding only when you succeed? Are they in it for you? Some examples I noticed:

·       Colleges who buy and advertise courses through various publishing companies.  They can make up a large portion of the college’s course portfolio and the college spend  dollars advertising and selling these courses to our community.  However, in many instances many of these publishing companies also provide the training & development - selling the same courses with better discounting in our community and the businesses these colleges serve. 

·       The latest trends are organizations that provide educational online programs and contract with community colleges to resell them.  They provide them a revenue share percentage and a set price point for each individual course.  However, they also have territory representatives and direct marketing campaigns - selling the same courses with bundled discounts and added technology directly to the community and the businesses these colleges service. 

·       Then we have companies that that have a reputation of selling their products and services to everyone (colleges).  How do you distinguish if these companies are right for your college?  What differenciates them and how will they add value to the college? Just because most of the colleges use a particular company’s products and services, doesn’t mean everyone has too. Research and analyze what your niche is within your market and partner with someone that is stronger in that area.  Knowing you strengths and manage your weaknesses through strategic partners!

Are these vendors or strategic partners and what kind of message does it send to the customer?
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